In the fall of 2010, Mazda USA awarded its business to holding company WPP, jettisoning long-time AOR Doner. The new WPP relationship spawned a dedicated WPP-consortium agency called The Garage/Team Mazda, housed right across the street from Mazda in Irvine, Calif. That alone says a lot about the value of the relationship, according to Jim O'Sullivan, Mazda's North American CEO, who spoke to Marketing Daily about the benefits of having a one-stop shop
This will be a critical year for the automaker as it focuses on its CX-5 compact crossover, the SkyActiv Technology under that car's hood and under the hood of the 2012 Mazda3 car, which will also get the media spotlight this year, meaning that Mazda will put a renewed focus on reaching Millennials.
Q: Are you going after younger buyers this year for Mazda3?
A: We have the youngest median age buyer in the U.S., with an average age in the early 40's, so we have to go where they go. Also, more of these are appointment viewers and they are multitasking while watching TV.
Q: Do you find media opportunities where you get the ROI?
A: We try to find those areas where, in terms of media spend, we have more precise measurement. Group M is very good at analytics, and since we made an agency change year and half ago, we are getting more robust data. They helped us shape the CX-5 launch. That sophistication in terms of building brand awareness on digital didn't exist a few years ago.
Q: Why did you go in for a Mazda-dedicated WPP consortium over the traditional agency-roster approach?
A: The paradigm we wanted to get away from is that we had one group that did our digital stuff, one that did creative, around 11 or 12 marketing agencies that we interfaced with. And we saw that each one had its own bureaucratic drag -- each has its own financial offices and P & L, and all the the stuff layered in there around operational costs. And when you pull everyone together under one roof, you don't have duplication, so instead of spending money again and again on administrative costs you invest in marketing.
Q: Didn't they communicate among each other?
A: And the only time they really came together is when they came to talk to us. When we went to the WPP [garage-Team Mazda] agency model, they were all co-located with one person at WPP who has responsibility and authority to service the account, including finding a plug-and-play solution within WPP's global network as needed.
Before, if we needed to talk to someone we had to deal with 12 agencies, each one suggesting solutions based on what they are selling. With one organization we get one plan across the range of services. Its not like they are giving up to a competitor or a different marketing firm, it is all within one group. So, when you get recommendations they won't be parochial.
Q: But don't you lose independent and maybe 'outside the box' thinking with that that consolidated, Mazda dedicated shop?
A: WPP has lots of agencies around the world including boutiques, and that's where this plug-and-play opportunity comes from. Sir Martin Sorrell has a system of catalyst agencies and Garage-Team Mazda can reach out to these WPP boutique agencies anywhere in the world to pollinate ideas for the Mazda team. So we get scale, efficiency and nimbleness to tap into.
Q: What does your sponsorship situation look like?
A: Lots of our buyers are appointment viewers, but at the other end of it you want to be there when they are. We do a lot around motorsports with ESPN. We have partnered with but don't sponsor sports; we are very selective in what we do.
We are a relevant brand and how we get the message out is extremely important. We have great product, and that helps build the foundation, but the biggest issue is that a lot of people don't know what Mazda sells. We are trying to change that and are are seeing momentum. We are up 28% year-to-date on sales, and a lot of the things we have done are starting to pay off -- but we have to be very surgical.